Green Koans Case 60: Dōgen’s To-Do List

Clark Strand

CASE #60: Dōgen’s To-Do List

Dōgen Zenji wrote himself a reminder:

To study the Buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad
things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away.
No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.


Dōgen Zenji Dōgen Kigen (1200-1253) was the founder of the Soto School of Japanese Zen. Often considered the greatest philosopher of Japanese Buddhism, he was also a man of immense literary gifts. Dōgen’s masterwork Shōbōgenzō (“Treasury of the True Dharma Eye”), from which the present case is taken, is sometimes regarded as a treatise on deep ecology.


Dōgen isn’t deceived when people speak of the Buddha way. He knows it’s the self they’re really talking about. To study the way is another thing entirely.

Go for a walk in the woods, pick up a seashell on the shore—the earth rises to meet your feet, the shell carries itself from the beach in your palm.

We don’t do anything alone, because alone we aren’t anything. Everything together adds up to nothing, and that nothing continues endlessly—eternal, joyous, and free.

Items on Dōgen’s
To-do list: Study the self
To forget the self,
Forget the self, and bring
Myriad beings back to life.


Find all the Green Koans here.

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cm's picture

This is tangential.

Clark Strand,
What became of your old webpage/blog? When I visit something off (a search site?) shows up. And when I finally found I come to a plain page with all the visual form and beauty that were there now gone. ¿Que pasó? I was about to send someone to look at it as an example of lovely site.

To study the web is to forget the web. Forgetting the web one is just the opening and in wonder at what emerges.


ClarkStrand's picture

Needless to say (but since someone asked), it's fine for anyone else who's reading this series or the 12 Step essays to friend me on Facebook, not just Christopher. I do a lot of dialogue about these ideas there and am always happy to answer questions, get feedback, etc.

ClarkStrand's picture

Hi, Christopher. I'm afraid the answer is simply that it was too expensive to maintain for the amount of traffic it generated at the time. I started it during that awkward in-between phase when you had to hire someone to design your website/blog for you, pay for software, redesigns, etc., and when it came time to renew a few webmaster friends advised against it, so I shifted most of my new material toTricycle, WashingtonPost.Newsweek, and Facebook (if you're on the latter, please friend me to get regular updates, etc.) That being said, I really should have transferred a lot of the essays from WholeEarth God onto blogspot or one of the free platforms. I just got so busy that I never got around to it.